Palos Verdes residents have three new elected officials representing their interests in Sacramento and Washington this year, two that were decided by voters and one the result of redistricting.
Sen. Ted Lieu, a Democrat, added the Palos Verdes Peninsula to his constituency, replacing Sen. Rod Wright, after district lines were redrawn in the state senate. Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the more liberal Democrats in Washington, replaces Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, covering the peninsula after Congressional redistricting last year. And Rep. Al Muratsuchi was elected to the state assembly after a newly formed district included the peninsula.
Lieu had already represented the South Bay beach cities when Palos Verdes, Santa Monica and other areas on the Westside were added to his district, giving him one of the largest and wealthiest constituencies in the country.
“I look forward to representing my new constituents on the peninsula,” Lieu said in an interview with Easy Reader. “For the first time in a long time we have a balanced state budget with a projected surplus. It’s important we continue to show fiscal discipline but really do what the voters wanted which is to invest in education as well as quality of life issues.”
Lieu said he was hopefully that a recently projected $5 billion state budget surplus will open opportunities to fund some of the aging infrastructure and landslide issues that require funding especially in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Susan Brooks, mayor of Rancho Palos Verdes who ran as a Republican against Jane Harmon as a Republican in 1994, said she met with Lieu and Muratsuchi, both Democrats, on a recent trip to Sacramento for a conference of local governments.
“Even though I’m a Republican, personally I think these guys truly want to make a difference and want to reach out to everybody,” Brooks said.
Those who know Lieu say he has a good reputation of working well with people that have different political views. George Bird, mayor of Rolling Hills Estates, said Lieu has a history of working in collaboration. Bird was recently awarded Lawyer of the Year by the South Bay Bar Association at a dinner that Lieu attended.
“Everyone’s asking for their fair share of the pie,” Bird said. “Competition is tense. Everybody’s calling for more money to their particular programs. It’s my hope that people can work together and set aside partisan politics and overall work with the Governor to fix this financial crisis.
Frank Zerunyan, mayor of Rolling Hills Estates, said Lieu is extremely well-respected.
“We in local governments have had the shorter end of the stick from the last legislature,” said Zerunyan, who’s a public policy professor at USC. “I’m looking forward to seeing the new legislature so we might gain back some of the collaboration we used to have.”
Lieu said he’s proud of his ability to work across the aisle.
“I believe to create change you should have bipartisan support and from as many of the voters as possible,” Lieu said. “I also tend to be more fiscally moderate but socially more liberal. I think that somewhat matches the new constituents on the PV peninsula.” ER